How to Become a Catholic Priest in Nigeria (2024)

The Catholic church is one of the oldest and most respected religious organizations in the world and is even dubbed as the church founded by the apostles of Jesus Christ. From it inception till date, various priests are being ordained in various diocese by Bishops. The reason for this is to propagate Christianity gospel and the church’s doctrine to all the lay faithful through the Catholic sacraments.

Becoming a Catholic priest in Nigeria requires a significant amount of dedication and commitment. The process can take between four and thirteen years, with an average of six years, depending on the seminary attended and the individual’s starting point.

To become a Catholic priest in Nigeria, one must attend a Catholic seminary, which is an institution dedicated to the training and education of priests. The first step in the process is completing the necessary educational requirements. This includes obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy or any other related field of study.

After completing the educational requirements, the individual must undergo a period of discernment, during which they will be evaluated for their suitability for the priesthood. If found suitable, they will proceed to the next stage, which involves ordination as a deacon before eventually being ordained as a priest. In this article, we will explore the steps required to become a Catholic priest in Nigeria, including the education and formation requirements, discernment, ordination, and ongoing formation and ministry.


Becoming a Catholic priest is a significant decision that requires careful consideration and preparation. A Catholic priest is a spiritual leader who is responsible for guiding and serving the members of a parish. They are ordained ministers who have undergone extensive training and formation to carry out their duties.

The primary responsibility of a Catholic priest is to celebrate Mass and administer the sacraments. This includes performing baptism, confirmation, marriage, and funeral rituals. They are also responsible for hearing confessions and offering pastoral care to members of their parish.

In addition to these sacramental responsibilities, a Catholic priest also plays a vital role in the overall ministry of the Church. They are responsible for leading and organising various pastoral activities, such as retreats, religious education classes, and community outreach programmes.

A Catholic priest is also expected to be a moral and ethical role model for their congregation. They must lead by example and live a life of integrity and compassion. They are responsible for promoting the values of the Catholic Church and encouraging their congregation to live a life of faith and service.


To become a Catholic priest in Nigeria, follow these steps:


Recognize that being a Catholic priest is a calling from God to serve His people and provide spiritual guidance. You must understand that once you become a priest in the Catholic church, it is something you do forever.


The journey to priesthood begins with a call from God. This call is often experienced as an inner voice, a feeling of restlessness, or a desire to serve others. It is important for the individual to take the time to reflect and discern whether this call is genuine and comes from God. Engage in prayer, reflection, and seek guidance from experienced priests and spiritual directors to discern if you are called to be a priest.


Becoming a Catholic priest in Nigeria requires a significant amount of education and formation. This process typically takes between four and thirteen years, with an average of six years. The first step in becoming a priest is completing the necessary educational requirements. These include a secondary school education and a bachelor’s degree in philosophy or a related field from an accredited university. Complete your secondary education with good grades, focusing on subjects like English, Mathematics, and Christian Religious Knowledge (CRK).


After completing the required educational standards, the next step is to attend a Catholic seminary. Seminaries are institutions dedicated to the training and education of priests. Seminarians focus on four parts of their priestly formation during their time in the seminary: human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral.

Theological studies are an essential part of the formation process. Seminarians study theology, scripture, liturgy, and church history. They also receive training in pastoral care, homiletics, and leadership. Seminarians must maintain high academic standards and provide academic transcripts to their superiors.

During their time in the seminary, seminarians are required to live a communal life of prayer, study, and service. They participate in daily Mass, Liturgy of the Hours, and other devotional practices. They also engage in pastoral work, such as visiting the sick and the elderly.


Once the individual has discerned that they are being called to the priesthood, they must then undergo a period of formation. This includes both spiritual and academic formation, which is designed to prepare them for a life of service as a priest.

During the formation process, the individual will spend time in prayer and reflection, learning more about the Catholic faith, and developing the skills and knowledge necessary to serve as a priest. They will also be required to participate in pastoral work, gaining practical experience in serving others and ministering to their needs.


After significant progress in your seminary training, you may be ordained as a deacon, allowing you to assist priests in their duties and participate in certain liturgical functions.


Undergo a final ordination ceremony to become a Catholic priest, receiving the sacrament of Holy Orders and assuming the responsibilities of priesthood.


Once ordained, you will be assigned to a diocese or religious congregation based on the needs of the community and your skills and talents.


Embrace a lifelong commitment to learning and personal development, staying updated with the teachings of the Church and enhancing your pastoral skills.


Dedicate yourself to a life of celibacy, obedience, prayer, and service to others. Celebrate Mass, administer sacraments, provide counseling, and be a compassionate presence in the lives of the faithful.


In the Catholic Church, the Sacrament of Holy Orders is the sacrament through which men are ordained as bishops, priests, or deacons. This sacrament is considered to be one of the seven sacraments, which are essential to the Catholic faith.

The sacrament of Holy Orders is a sacred and solemn event that is performed by a bishop. During the ordination ceremony, the bishop lays his hands on the head of the man being ordained and prays for the Holy Spirit to come down upon him.

The sacrament of Holy Orders has three degrees: the diaconate, the priesthood, and the episcopate. The diaconate is the first degree, followed by the priesthood, and then the episcopate.

Those who are ordained as deacons are called to serve the Church in a variety of ways, including preaching, teaching, and assisting at Mass. Priests, on the other hand, are called to celebrate Mass, hear confessions, and administer the sacraments. Bishops are responsible for overseeing the spiritual and administrative affairs of their diocese.

The sacrament of Holy Orders is a lifelong commitment to serving the Church and its people. Those who are ordained are expected to live their lives in accordance with the teachings of the Church and to be an example of Christ to others.


Catholicism arrived in Nigeria with Portuguese explorers in the 15th century, though their missionary efforts were largely unsuccessful and Catholicism virtually disappeared by the 17th century. Modern Catholic missions were established by priests from the Society of African Missions in the late 19th century, and today, the Catholic Church is one of the largest religious denominations in Nigeria, with over 22 million Catholics.

Nigeria is home to a significant number of Catholic priests, with the highest number of priests in Africa, along with Congo Democratic Republic. The boom in vocation to the priesthood in Nigeria is mainly in the eastern part, especially among the Igbo ethnic group, which accounts for over 70 percent of the country’s Catholic population.

There are several Catholic seminaries in Nigeria, including the National Missionary Seminary of St. Paul, Gwagwalada, Abuja, St. Joseph’s Major Seminary, Ikot Ekpene, Akwa Ibom State, and St. Peter and Paul Seminary, Ibadan, Oyo State.

The Catholic Church in Nigeria has been actively involved in the country’s culture and politics. Several Catholic priests have run for political office, with some successfully elected to positions of power. However, the Church has also faced criticism for its involvement in politics, with some arguing that priests should remain neutral and not actively participate in political activities.


Becoming a Catholic priest in Nigeria requires a deep commitment to living a life of service to God and the Church. One of the most significant aspects of this commitment is taking the vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience.


The vow of poverty means that a Catholic priest in Nigeria must live a simple life and not accumulate material possessions. This is in line with the teachings of Jesus, who encouraged his followers to give up their possessions and follow him. By taking this vow, a priest commits to living a life of simplicity and relying on the generosity of the community for his basic needs.


The vow of chastity means that a Catholic priest in Nigeria must remain celibate and abstain from sexual relationships. This is a challenging vow to take, but it is an essential part of the Catholic Church’s teachings. By taking this vow, a priest commits to living a life of purity and focusing on his relationship with God.


The vow of obedience means that a Catholic priest in Nigeria must submit to the authority of the Church and his superiors. This includes following the teachings of the Church, obeying the orders of his bishop, and living in accordance with the rules and regulations of the priesthood. By taking this vow, a priest commits to living a life of service to the Church and putting the needs of others before his own.


To apply to become a Catholic priest in Nigeria, there are certain requirements that must be met. The application process involves several stages, including psychological testing, screening, and approval by the diocesan seminarian board.

  • Firstly, the candidate must be a baptized and confirmed Catholic. They must have their sacramental certificates, which includes their baptismal, confirmation, and first holy communion certificates. These certificates are required to be submitted along with the application letter.
  • The candidate must also provide references from their parish priest or a priest in charge, as well as from a reputable member of the community who can vouch for their character and suitability for the priesthood.
  • Once the application letter and supporting documents have been submitted, the candidate will be invited for psychological testing and screening. This is to ensure that they are mentally and emotionally fit for the demands of the priesthood.
  • After the testing and screening process, the candidate’s application will be reviewed by the diocesan seminarian board. The board will evaluate the candidate’s suitability for the priesthood based on their academic qualifications, character, and spiritual development.
  • If the candidate is approved by the board, they will be admitted into the seminary for training. The seminary is an institution dedicated to the training and education of priests. The training program can take between four and thirteen years, with an average of six.


Becoming a Catholic priest in Nigeria requires more than just a spiritual calling. It also involves meeting certain health and lifestyle requirements. Here are the key factors that aspiring priests need to consider:


To become a Catholic priest in Nigeria, one needs to be in excellent health. This is because the role of a priest involves a lot of physical and mental demands. Priests are expected to be available to their congregation at all times, and this requires a high level of energy and stamina. Additionally, priests are often called upon to travel to remote areas, which can be physically demanding.


In addition to being in good health, aspiring priests in Nigeria are expected to meet certain personal requirements. Firstly, they must be unmarried. This is because the Catholic Church requires its priests to remain celibate. Secondly, they must be of good character and have a strong moral compass. This is because priests are expected to be role models for their congregation and to uphold the values of the Catholic Church.


Priests in Nigeria are also expected to lead a certain lifestyle. This includes dressing modestly and conservatively, and avoiding any behaviour that may be perceived as scandalous or inappropriate. Additionally, priests are expected to live a simple and frugal lifestyle, and to avoid materialism and consumerism.


In Nigeria, the Catholic Church is organized into dioceses, each headed by a bishop. The diocese plays a crucial role in the formation and training of priests.

The diocese is responsible for providing a seminary for the education and formation of future priests. This is where men who are discerning a call to the priesthood come to study philosophy and theology, as well as receive spiritual and pastoral formation. The seminary is also where they learn about the Catholic faith and the teachings of the Church.

In addition to providing a seminary, the diocese also plays a key role in the discernment process. It is the bishop’s responsibility to discern whether a man has the necessary qualities to become a priest. This includes evaluating the candidate’s spiritual, emotional, and intellectual maturity, as well as his ability to live a celibate life.

Once a man is accepted into the seminary, the diocese continues to play an important role in his formation. The bishop and other diocesan priests provide guidance and support to the seminarians, helping them to discern their vocation and grow in their faith.

After a man is ordained a priest, he becomes a member of the diocesan clergy. He is assigned to a parish within the diocese, where he serves the community by celebrating Mass, administering the sacraments, and providing pastoral care. The bishop is responsible for the assignment of priests to parishes and for overseeing their work.

The diocese also has a responsibility to support its priests. This includes providing ongoing formation and education, as well as ensuring that they have the resources they need to carry out their ministry. The diocese may also provide financial support to priests who are retired or in need.


Becoming a Catholic priest in Nigeria requires a deep commitment to the faith, as well as a willingness to participate in various practices and rituals. These practices and rituals are an essential part of the spiritual progress and devotion of devout Catholics.

One of the most important practices for Catholic priests is the celebration of Mass. During Mass, the priest leads the congregation in prayer and administers the sacraments, including baptism and the Eucharist. The priest must also be well-versed in the teachings of the Church and able to deliver sermons that inspire and educate the congregation.

In addition to Mass, Catholic priests in Nigeria are expected to participate in retreats and other spiritual activities that help them deepen their faith and strengthen their relationship with God. These retreats often involve periods of prayer, meditation, and reflection, and may be held in remote locations away from the distractions of everyday life.

Another important aspect of Catholic priesthood in Nigeria is the administration of the sacraments. These include baptism, confirmation, confession, marriage, and the anointing of the sick. The priest must be able to perform these sacraments with care and reverence, and must be knowledgeable about the theological and practical aspects of each one.

Devotion to the Virgin Mary and the saints is also an important part of Catholic practice in Nigeria. Many priests are expected to lead devotional services and participate in processions honouring Mary and the saints. The priest must also be well-versed in the lives and teachings of the saints, and able to inspire and educate the congregation about their significance.


Becoming a Catholic priest in Nigeria requires an understanding of the country’s diverse cultures and languages. The major native languages spoken in Nigeria represent three major families of African languages, including Niger-Congo languages such as Yoruba and Igbo, Afro-Asiatic languages such as Hausa, and Nilo-Saharan languages such as Kanuri.

In addition to the local languages, Latin is also an important language for Catholic priests in Nigeria. Latin is the official language of the Roman Catholic Church and is used in liturgical celebrations. Therefore, aspiring priests must have a solid understanding of Latin.

English is also an essential language for Catholic priests in Nigeria. It is the official language of the country and is used in official documents and communication. Therefore, aspiring priests must be proficient in English.

Islam is also an important consideration for Catholic priests in Nigeria. Nigeria is a country with a significant Muslim population, and Catholic priests must be sensitive to the cultural and religious practices of their Muslim counterparts.

Catholic seminaries in Nigeria are also sensitive to cultural and language differences. They provide training in the local languages and cultures, as well as in Latin and English. Seminarians are also taught to be respectful of other religions and cultures, including Islam, and to be knowledgeable about their practices.


  • Can women become Catholic priests in Nigeria?

No, the Catholic Church does not ordain women as priests. However, women play crucial roles in the Church as religious sisters, lay ministers, and active members of the faith community.

  • Is it possible to become a Catholic priest if I am married?

In the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church, priests are required to embrace celibacy. However, in certain circumstances, married men who convert to Catholicism from other Christian denominations and become priests can receive special dispensations.

  • How long does it take to become a Catholic priest in Nigeria?

The process of becoming a Catholic priest in Nigeria typically takes several years, including completion of formal education, seminary training, and diaconate formation. The total duration may vary based on individual circumstances and the specific formation program.

  • Can a Catholic priest pursue further studies while serving in a parish?

Yes, many Catholic priests pursue further studies and engage in ongoing education while serving in a parish. This allows them to deepen their theological knowledge and enhance their pastoral skills.

  • How can I know if I have a calling to become a Catholic priest?

Discerning a calling to become a Catholic priest involves prayer, reflection, seeking guidance from experienced priests or spiritual directors, and engaging in pastoral experiences. It is essential to listen to the promptings of your heart and seek God’s guidance in discerning your vocation.

Chizoba Ikenwa

Chizoba is a seasoned Information blogger, content developer and the founder of Nigerian Infopedia. He is a tech enthusiast who loves reading, writing and research

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